Author Topic: Affordable Living in CA/FL?  (Read 6635 times)

Anti-ComplainyPants

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Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« on: April 08, 2014, 12:26:02 PM »
I'm currently living in Mississippi, where the cost of living is really low but so is the compensation. My spouse and I have never wanted to stay in Mississippi - we've always planned on moving somewhere else that isn't quite so...well, Mississippi-ish.

We both really love the idea of moving to California or Florida, but the cost of living will obviously be much higher. Does anyone have any suggestions about moving to a higher cost-of-living area? Specifically, anyplace in California or the Tampa, Florida area?

Thanks for the upcoming insight!

MissStache

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 12:37:04 PM »
You can live anywhere and still save, it is just harder in a high COL area.  Look at MMM's recent post about a couple living in Manhattan and managing to pay off big student loans in a mindbendingly short amount of time! 

Sticker shock is real, though.  Especially with real estate.  I pay more for rent on a little 1 bedroom basement apartment in Alexandria, VA than my parents pay on their mortgage for a 3,000SF house on 45 acres in Alabama...

There are a lot of Californians on the forum, so I am sure they can chime in.  Not so sure about Floridians, but hopefully you'll hear from a few.

What sort of work do y'all do?  Would it translate into a significantly higher salary if you moved?

MandyM

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2014, 12:41:45 PM »
I don't think FL is that expensive really. No state income tax, reasonable property tax rates, house prices still on the low side, etc.  Maybe high compared to MS, but nothing compared to (my impression) of CA.

I lived in the Bradenton/Sarasota area from 2005-2008, so I sort of know what I'm talking about. Home insurance rates are high and sales tax is in the 7+% range if I remember correctly.

MKinVA

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2014, 12:52:58 PM »
You can do a city to city cost of living comparison here: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

In that area, I like St Petersburg. Older neighborhoods with charming houses fairly reasonable in price. One of the great things about St. Petersburg is all the houses seem to have a rental apt, mother in law suite, something already done, zoned, on the property! It's the neatest thing I've ever seen!

I don't know where you would be working, but you might check on traffic between where you live and your work. That could be a killer in terms of quality of life. You can't go anywhere in Florida where you don't have to cross a bridge.

California: I got nothing.

Daleth

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2014, 01:04:48 PM »
Look for multiunits (1-4 units) or places with granny flats/mother-in-law flats attached to them or to the garage. That is the single biggest thing you can do to save on COL in a high-cost area.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2014, 01:33:59 PM »
Cost of living varies considerably within CA and FL.

San Francisco would cost a fortune for housing compared to Sacramento, for example.

Have you tried running some calculators to compare the impact on your budget?

dcheesi

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2014, 01:50:16 PM »
I think Florida was hit pretty hard by the real  estate collapse; at one time there were some very cheap houses available. A year or two ago, my brother was able to get a condo in Sarasota for very little money. I'm not sure if it's still that way now, though?

Anti-ComplainyPants

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2014, 02:03:57 PM »
@MissStache: I am a Mental Health Clinician - I should get a boost in income moving, but then again, just about anywhere pays more than Mississippi. My spouse is a Medical Technologist, she looks and body fluid stuff in a lab and figures out what weird stuff is going on with it.

@RetireAbroadAt35: Not yet, but I'm about to open up the one posted by MKinVA... I was just hoping to get the inside scoop from fellow Mustacians first

@csmith1521: I guess my biggest concern is the availability of affordable housing in high COL areas. Right now my hope is that affordable homes can be found in the suburbs of major cities, but I lack the experience to know if high COL areas imply that both upper-end and lower-end prices in the area will still be relatively high.

mjs111

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2014, 02:06:29 PM »
I've lived in Southern California (Los Angeles/Orange County) for the last 16 years and have been to and through much of the state. Like a couple of other posters have stated, California is vast.  Living in a small town not far outside of Yosemite could be pretty cheap. Conversely, San Francisco and much of the surrounding Bay Area is famous for being very expensive.  Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara are somewhere in between.  There are smallish towns on the coast in the area between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz that aren't terribly expensive that are beautiful and scenic, though there are limited job opportunities there.

State income tax and State sales tax are some of the most expensive in the nation. I think with our latest tax raise our marginal state income tax rate IS the highest.  Those rates will be the same anywhere in California, though sometimes localities will add in an extra tax on top of the state sales tax.

A lot depends on where the market is for the type of work you do and what kind of area you want to live in. Big city?  By the coast?  By the mountains?  By the National Parks? Are you retired?

Mike


zataks

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014, 02:07:27 PM »
I moved from northern Nevada where cost of living was very near the national average to San Jose where COL is roughly 140% of the national average.  I stayed in the same line of work (public sector/utilities) and moving in at the bottom of journey-level classification, my pay increased about 185%.  So I moved to an area with greater COL and to a job allowing me greater income.  Granted, NV had no state income tax and CA does but even still, my take home is still greater than 40% more than what is was before.

Plus I learned about mustachianism so that allows even more "disposable" (savable!) income.

Regarding housing: that is probably the single largest increased expense related to COL compared to where I previously lived.  My 2bed/1bath 950sqft apt in a decentish area is considered incredibly cheap at $1300/month.

Daleth

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2014, 09:33:47 PM »
San Francisco would cost a fortune for housing compared to Sacramento, for example.

Absolutely true. And Sacramento is warmer, and not far from the Bay Area for those times when you specifically want to go to San Francisco.

@csmith1521: I guess my biggest concern is the availability of affordable housing in high COL areas. Right now my hope is that affordable homes can be found in the suburbs of major cities, but I lack the experience to know if high COL areas imply that both upper-end and lower-end prices in the area will still be relatively high.

Look on Craigslist if you're thinking of renting, or realtor.com if you're thinking of moving. Sacramento will be way cheaper than the Bay Area either way, and it's a nice place.

Daisy

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 09:42:57 PM »
Florida is vast and varied. Even the weather varies as it can get pretty cold in central and northern Florida (from the perspective of south Florida). I am sure you can find something in your price range in just about any area.

What Florida has going for it vs. California is no state income taxes. Probably best to avoid being really close to the coasts for the high prices and high home insurance rates.

Anti-ComplainyPants

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2014, 09:05:54 AM »
Thanks for the insight, everyone! I had forgotten about Craigslist as an option for finding rentals, I'm sure I'll do that (we're looking to rent first so we have plenty of time to decide where we might want to purchase a home).

jwilliams0215

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2014, 12:06:29 PM »
Tampa has a relatively low cost for living and inexpensive property can be found depending on what area you want to live in. I live in the suburbs there now; the biggest issue you'll find is lack of public transportation. It's extremely car dependent.

Jamesqf

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2014, 04:28:37 PM »
San Francisco would cost a fortune for housing compared to Sacramento, for example.

Absolutely true. And Sacramento is warmer...

Yes, in much the same way that Hell is warmer :-)  IOW, it's too hot to live comfortably most of the year, and when it's not, it's foggy.

But as others have said, California's a big place, so you can find a wide range of climates & living costs just by moving a relatively short distance.

k-vette

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2014, 06:55:20 PM »
I live about an hour from sacramento California and don't think much about the COL.  It seems like there are plenty of high paying jobs for those willing to work.

I've also lived in florida - wow did it seem cheap!  I was in several different areas, some minutes from the beach, others in the middle of the state.  I wish I could've paid the florida housing prices, but I prefer living in ca.

I see florida as a more bike friendly place if that makes a difference.

EricL

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2014, 01:11:46 PM »
Living expenses in California can be heinous.  There are places where you can live that are much cheaper but forget about living on/near the beach or civilization.  Example: Death Valley - i.e. the desert in the south east part of the state.  I used to live out there and it's kinda cool to live like Obi Wan Kenobi but it's not for everyone.

Florida on the other hand is another story and I think you'd prefer it.  You can comfortably live on the pan handle across the street from the ocean with a beach that is much nicer and water much warmer than anyplace in California for about $1200 a month total.  (As a California native that kills me to say that)  The only downsides: The winters can be brutal for a coastal region - though it's not Wisconson or anything.  Also it is in the South in an economically depressed area where strip malls and Walmart are pretty much what passes for culture.  But if you've lived in Lousiana I'm sure you can cope just fine. 

nicknageli

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2014, 03:26:22 PM »
Also it is in the South in an economically depressed area where strip malls and Walmart are pretty much what passes for culture.

That cracked me up! 

jflo

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2014, 05:57:36 PM »
+1 for Sactown. Same salary that I had in LA and I live in a rural area outside of it. Keep in mind though that CA has more environmental diversity than most countries so do check out the areas you're thinking of first. It's not all beaches and mild temps.

Daisy

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2014, 08:04:28 PM »
@MissStache: I am a Mental Health Clinician - I should get a boost in income moving, but then again, just about anywhere pays more than Mississippi. My spouse is a Medical Technologist, she looks and body fluid stuff in a lab and figures out what weird stuff is going on with it.

@RetireAbroadAt35: Not yet, but I'm about to open up the one posted by MKinVA... I was just hoping to get the inside scoop from fellow Mustacians first

@csmith1521: I guess my biggest concern is the availability of affordable housing in high COL areas. Right now my hope is that affordable homes can be found in the suburbs of major cities, but I lack the experience to know if high COL areas imply that both upper-end and lower-end prices in the area will still be relatively high.

Miami has a lot of health care related jobs around the downtown area (Jackson Memorial hospital, Bascom Palmer eye institute). In addition, the University of Miami recently opened up a building to attract medical technology companies. I'm not sure how many companies have moved in. Check it out: http://umlsp.com/.

Recently, the Brickell and downtown areas started flourishing. It's probably the only area in Miami you can get by without a car. And you can get to these places of employment on the Metrorail by living there.


Travis

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Re: Affordable Living in CA/FL?
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2014, 09:07:37 PM »
I was born and raised in Sacramento.  With Cali being such a huge state the first question I have is what kind of job prospects are you looking at?  If you're FIRE, what are your interests?  Living in Sac I was a 2 hour drive in any direction from several different climates and adventures.  Without knowing anything else, my first piece of advice would be to steer clear of the major cities.  If you don't have an overwhelming need to actually live in places like LA or SF then don't.  California has plenty of small to medium sized cities with lots of suburban options with varying levels of Cost of Living.  You can live close enough to big cities to experience them without having to pay the premium of living there.